Ernesto Arturo Miranda was born March 9, 1941 in Messa, Arizona.
Miranda began getting in trouble when he was in grade school. His first criminal conviction was during his eighth grade year.
The following year, he was convicted of burglary and sentenced to a year in reform school.
In 1956, the 15 year old fell afoul of the law once more and was returned to the Arizona State Industrial School for Boys
Upon his second release from reform school, Miranda relocated to Los Angeles, California.
Within months of his arrival in LA, he was arrested (but not convicted) on suspicion of armed robbery and for some minor sex offenses.
After two and a half years in custody the 18-year-old was extradited back to Arizona.
Miranda then drifted around the south for a few months, spending time in jail in Texas for living on the street without money or a place to live, and was arrested in Nashville for driving a stolen car.
Because he had taken the stolen vehicle across state lines, Miranda was sentenced to a year and a day in the federal prison system, serving time in Chillicothe, Ohio and later in Lompoc, California.
The next couple of years Miranda worked various places, until he became a laborer on the night loading dock for the Phoenix produce company.
At that time, he started living with Twila Hoffman, a 29-year-old mother of a boy and a girl by another man, from whom she could not afford a divorce.
Then on March 13, 1963, Miranda’s truck was spotted and license plates recognized by the brother of a 17-year-old kidnapping and rape victim, Lois Ann Jameson (the victim had given the brother a description).
With his description of the car and a partial license plate number, Phoenix police officers Carroll Cooley and Wilfred Young arrested Miranda, took him to the station house and placed him in a lineup.
After the lineup, when Miranda asked what he did, the police implied that he had been positively identified.
The police then got a confession out of Miranda after two hours of interrogation, without informing him of his rights.
After unburdening himself to the officers, Miranda was taken to meet the beating victim for positive voice identification.
Asked by officers, in her presence, whether this was the victim, Miranda said, “That’s the girl.”
The victim stated that the sound of Miranda’s voice matched that of the culprit.
Miranda then wrote his confessions down.
At the top of each sheet was the printed certification that “…this statement has been made voluntarily and of my own free will, with no threats, coercion or promises of immunity and with full knowledge of my legal rights, understanding any statement I make can and will be used against me.”
Despite the statement on top of the sheets that Miranda was confessing “with full knowledge of my legal rights,” he was not informed of his right to have an attorney present or of his right to remain silent.
73-year-old defense attorney Alvin Moore was assigned to represent him at his trial.
The trial took place in mid-June of 1963 before Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Yale McFate.
Moore objected to entering the confession by Miranda as evidence during the trial but was overruled.
Primarily due to the confession, Miranda was convicted of rape and kidnapping and sentenced to 20 to 30 years on both charges.
Moore appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court but the charges were upheld.
Filing as a pauper, Miranda submitted his plea for a writ of certiorari, or request for review of his case to the U.S. Supreme Court in June 1965.
After Alvin Moore was unable to take the case because of health reasons, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Robert J. Corcoran, asked John J. Flynn, a criminal defense attorney, to serve pro bono, along with his partner, John P. Frank, and an associate Peter D. Baird of the law firm Lewis & Roca in Phoenix to represent Miranda.
They wrote a 2,500 word petition for certiorari that argued that Miranda’s Fifth Amendment rights had been violated and sent it to the United States Supreme Court.
Miranda v. Arizona
In November of 1965, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Miranda’s case, Miranda v. Arizona, along with three other similar cases to clear all misunderstandings created by the ruling of Escobedo v. Illinois.
In January of 1966, attorney’s Flynn and Frank submitted their argument stating that Miranda’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel had been violated by the Phoenix Police Department.
Two weeks later the state of Arizona responded by stating that Miranda’s rights had not been violated.
The first day of the Supreme Court case was on the last day of February 1966. Because of three other cases and other information, the case had a second day of oral arguments on March 1, 1966.
John Flynn and John Paul Frank for Miranda stated that Miranda had not been advised of his right to remain silent when he had been arrested and questioned, adding the Fifth Amendment argument to his case.
Flynn contended that an emotionally disturbed man like Miranda, who had a limited education, should not be expected to know his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.
Gary Nelson spoke for the people of Arizona, arguing that this was not a Fifth Amendment issue but just an attempt to expand the Sixth Amendment Escobedo decision. He urged the justices to clarify their position, but not to push the limits of Escobedo too far. He then told the court that forcing police to advise suspects of their rights would seriously obstruct public safety.
The second day of arguments concerned related cases. Thurgood Marshall, the former NAACP attorney, was the last to argue. In his capacity as the Solicitor General, he presented President Johnson’s administration view that the government did not have the resources to appoint a lawyer for every indigent person who was accused of a crime.
Supreme Court Opinion
Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote the favorable opinion in Miranda v. Arizona.
It stated that:
The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.
This opinion was released on June 13, 1966.
The Supreme Court set aside Miranda’s conviction, which had been tainted by the use of the confession that had been obtained through improper interrogation. The state of Arizona retried him. At the second trial, his confession was not introduced into evidence, but he was convicted again on testimony given by his estranged de facto wife, but only after he sued for custody of their daughter. He was sentenced to 20 to 30 years in prison.
Because of this ruling, police departments around the country started to issue Miranda warning cards to their officers to recite.
Typically, they read:
You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions or make any statements. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?
Ernesto Miranda began to sell autographed Miranda warning cards for $1.50.
Ernesto Miranda was paroled in 1972.
Over the subsequent years, Miranda was arrested numerous times for minor driving offenses and eventually lost the privilege to drive a car.
He was arrested for the possession of a gun but the charges were dropped.
However, because this violated his parole he was sent back to Arizona state prison for another year.
On January 31, 1976, after his release for violating his parole, a violent fight broke out in a bar in Phoenix, Arizona.
Miranda received a lethal wound from a knife, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at Good Samaritan Hospital.
Several Miranda cards were found on his person.
The suspect, a Mexican national named Eseziquiel Moreno, supposedly fled prosecution.
Now WE know em